Another Introduction to GIS

Nice summary of what GIS is. There are many definitions out there.

Texas A&M Geoservices

There are several definitions used while explaining geographic information systems (GIS).  One of the most popular definitions for GIS is “a computer-based system to aid in the collection, maintenance, storage, analysis, output, and distribution of spatial data and information. (Bolstad)”  GIS helps us gather and use spatial data;  it is concerned with absolute and relative location of features (the where) and it’s concerned with properties and attributes of those features (the what).

GIS quantifies locations by recording their coordinate positions on Earth (latitude/longitude).  GIS tools are essential in business, government, education, and non-profit organizations (Bolstad).  It helps us identify and address environmental problems by providing information on where the problems occur and who are affected by them.  Using GIS we are able to identify the source, location, and extent of environmental impacts.

Advances in three key technologies have helped aid in the development of GIS; imaging, GNSS, and computing.  Cameras…

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Open Data Portals: Where To Find Data

Finding sources of open data can be a little cumbersome because there are so many ways to find data. There are a lot of websites that house data. For instance, let’s say that you are looking for data on the bike routes in Philadelphia. One place you can look at is Open Data Philly which is a portal that provides access Philadelphia based data sets, APIs, and applications.  You can search amongst the over 170 datasets or even submit or nominate a dataset to be included on the site.  A quick search on the site shows that there are 6 datasets related to biking ranging from bike rack locations to commuting routes.  Many large cities and counties are have websites where they store open data for their municipalities.

Here are some sites for local/federal government data:

Philadelphia: Open Data Philly

New York City: NYC Open Data

Boston: City of Boston

District of Columbia: Open Data Catalog

U.S. Government: Data.gov

GIS Resources: GIS Lounge and Q-GIS

Recently a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page a link to a free course on QGIS, a free open-sourced GIS software package.  I was so excited to see this as I have been really interested in this software but haven’t been able to find a tutorial for it.  I tried to find some stuff on YouTube there was nothing there that would help out a new user.  This course is being offered by Canvas By Instructure, a start-up founded in 2008  that colleges and universities use to offer online classes.  I signed up for the Q-GIS course which is at your own pace.  I liked this idea because it’s hard for me to juggle assignments with all that i have going on in my everyday life.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes.  For more info go to GIS Lounge a really cool site that keeps GIS users up-to-date on everything going on in the GIS world.

Brief History of GIS.

Most of my professional life has revolved around GIS (Geographical Information Systems).  GIS is a mapping application that is used by many disciplines to visualize and map data.  GIS systems use tabular data along with spatial data so that patterns can be seen and interpreted.

All kinds of data can be mapped such as demographic, environmental, medical, etc. There are many kinds of GIS systems available, some are pricey and some are available for free.  GIS does have a steep learning curve, but once you understand how it works you use the same principles to just about all GIS platforms.

If you are interested in learning more about cartography and GIS check out this article from the Smithsonian on the history of GIS.

 

Why I Set Up This Site.

I realized a few days ago that I didn’t write a a post about why I launched this blog.  So I’ll take this opportunity to write about why this blog was created and what you will get out of it.

In my professional life I work with people and organizations who are looking for data to beef up their grants, reports and business plans.  Either they are in the process of starting a business/grant writing or they already have a plan in place and need to fine-tune it.  This is where I come in and educate them on the types of data that are available for them.  I always steer clients towards free data as there is a plethora of them waiting to be used.

So this blog will be a stage to showcase what I have used in the past and what I discover during my own research.  I’ll discuss government data, business data and GIS/mapping resources that I think will be beneficial for the public to be aware of.    So bookmark my site and sign-up for updates,  you won’t want to miss a post!